Governors, state insurance commissioners encourage CSR funding in Senate hearings

State insurance commissioners testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee Wednesday, while governors went before the same group Thursday. Both groups encouraged lawmakers to fund cost-sharing reductions subsidies.

The hearings were called in an attempt to craft bipartisan solutions to help stabilize ACA exchanges. Committee chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., stressed the imperative legislative timeline for these potential policies.

"Timing is a challenge. So I propose that we come to a consensus by the end of next week when our hearings are complete so that Congress can act on it before the end of September," Mr. Alexander said in his opening remarks.

Nearly all that testified agreed that cost-sharing reduction subsidies are necessary. However, Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania's acting Human Services secretary and former insurance commissioner, emphasized that ACA markets are not failing to the degree that some claim.

"I'm not going to sit here this morning and tell you that the ACA is perfect," Ms. Miller said. "I think we all know that it's not, but the narrative that the ACA is failing and imploding is just false."

The bipartisan group of governors who testified Thursday also lobbied for cost-sharing payments, while encouraging greater state flexibility to work around ACA regulations, though the exact degree of flexibility was not agreed upon. Governors also agreed on the necessity for permanent reinsurance pools that provide federal funding for insurers to help offset the costs of covering high-cost patients.

Mr. Alexander has suggested a one-year timeline for potential cost-sharing payments while Democratic lawmakers have suggested two years. The committee will hold two more hearings next week.

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